Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Here’s what we saw during Saturday’s practice at the NovaCare Complex.

11:35 — The players are in helmets and shorts today. With a padded practice likely on tap for tomorrow’s session at the Linc, Chip Kelly is keeping things light.

A perfect day to ease some of the ailing Eagles back in. Mychal Kendricks and Zach Ertz both participated fully after missing yesterday with what Kelly described as a “nagging something.” Kendricks explained his absence by revealing that his “load levels” were too high. (We’ll have to do some digging to figure out exactly what that means.) “Sports science says numbers were too high,” he said.

I think we should all try to call out of work Monday with that reasoning. “Sorry, boss. Sports science says numbers are too high. You know, load levels.”

As for Ertz, he was asked: Are you dealing with an illness? A muscle? “A little bit of both,” he said, purposefully ambiguous. Kelly is teaching them well. DeMarco Murray returned from an illness but did not fully participate. Kiko Alonso remains sidelined with a concussion.

11:49 — Pads or no pads, the defensive line drills are always interesting to watch. Here’s an example of the different techniques Jerry Azzinaro has them work on. In this clip, they’re focussing on two-gapping. Azzinaro has them hold their position before releasing to the side that he indicates:

Here he moves on to pass-rushing. “Third down guys,” he shouts, indicating it’s a pass situation. “First step!” As a nearby spectator explains, he’s stressing the importance of being decisive with their initial step, trying to cut out any wasted movement.

11:54 — The quarterbacks and receivers are working  on fly routes the next field over. The assistants are holding out a pair of foam yellow bats (the same kind Kelly used to chase DeSean Jackson around with), forcing the wideouts to maneuver around them before darting downfield. Makes sense: you rarely get free release in a game, so why practice like you do?

12:03 — Jimmy Kempski shot some video of special teams coach Dave Fipp taking part in DB drills. Looking spry!

12:07 — Seven-on-seven time. Ertz immediately makes his presence felt, hauling in a pass over the middle from Matt Barkley and then another from Tim Tebow, who later connects with Kenjon Barner on a wheel route. Solid day for Tebow overall. Sam Bradford was sharp again. He throws a perfect dart to Jordan Matthews on a crosser. There is going to be plenty of opportunity for the receivers to rack up some YAC if Bradford is this precise with his ball placement come the fall.

12:16 — Team red-zone drills. Some line-up notes to pass along. Nolan Carroll is back with the first team opposite Byron Maxwell. The previous two days it had been Eric Rowe. Meanwhile, the game of musical chairs continues at right guard. Today, it’s Julian Vandervelde in with the ones. He’s the fourth to get a shot with the first team, joining Andrew Gardner, Matt Tobin and John Moffitt. This doesn’t strike me as a particularly good sign.

Matthews — a clear standout at camp — makes a diving catch along the left sideline on a throw from Bradford. Mark Sanchez follows that with a beauty down the seam to Jeff Maehl for the touchdown. Sanchez has been a little up and down the last two days, but that one was money.

12:25 — Miles Austin hops in with the first team for a few reps. They go empty backfield with Darren Sproles in the slot along with Zach Ertz. The third-year tight end has been very good this summer but here bobbles and drops a Bradford pass over the middle.

In the next series, a wayward pass from Sanchez is tipped by Ed Reynolds downfield. Not sure the odds are in his favor, but Reynolds has made a couple nice plays out here.

12:27 — Tucker notices that a young boy in front of us is sporting a Chris Maragos No. 42 jersey. I point out that it might be a relative, as it’s not uncommon for family members to take in training camp practice. “Maybe he’s just a fan of his special teams work,” he replies. The T-Man is not conceding this point.

12:30 — Well don’t you know, Maragos is running with the first team today alongside Malcolm Jenkins. “The kid might be onto something,” says Tucker, feeling vindicated.

12:35 — Bradford will impress you every now and again with his anticipation throws. Here, he drops back and zips a pass about 15 yards downfield to Josh Huff, who is running an out pattern and has not reached his break. As he cuts and turns, the ball is right on him and he comes up with the catch. Pretty impressive play all-around.

12:42 — That’s a wrap. The Eagles will be back at it tomorrow from Lincoln Financial Field. Practice starts at 11:35.